On January 24, 2019, the militant hotel workers union UNITE-HERE Local 11 orchestrated a shut-down of the busy intersection of Katella Avenue and Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim. It was a deliberate attempt disrupt the opening day of the NAMM Show – the Anaheim Convention Center’s biggest trade show. Local 11 was in a labor dispute with the Sheraton Anaheim Hotel, and the made-for-media shutdown of Katella and Harbor was an attempt to pressure the Sheraton Anaheim management – although it was motorists, conventioneers and Anaheim taxpayers who paid the price for this “direct action.”
:Local 11 patrona Ada Briceno recruited Councilman Jose F. Moreno to play a leading man role in its well-orchestrated union street theater – which necessitated a massive deployment of Anaheim police resources. Moreno, Briceno and 18 others were arrested and charged with two misdemeanors.
The planned arrest drama snarled traffic, stranded the transit-dependent as buses were re-routed, pinned down Anaheim police officers (taking them away from normal law enforcement duties), and disrupted the lives of people who had nothing to do with the labor dispute. Or as Councilman Moreno rationalized it: “There was inconvenience.”
While Moreno publicly justified his decision to break the law, just days before he criticized cities that did no want to comply with SB 54 (the “Sanctuary State” law that prohibits state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials) for “not following the law.”
Moreno and his comrades pled “not guilty” and were represented by a former proscecutor-turned-criminal-defense-attorney. It’s unclear whether Moreno paid for his pro-rated share of the defense, or if a third party footed the bill (in which case he is legally required to report it as a gift).
The case dragged and languished for more than two years, until April 12, when Judge James Rogan granted the defendants request for “diversion” (without any objection from the prosecution).
“Diversion” means Moreno and his 19 co-defendants have to complete 20 hours of community service by August 12 of this year. If he (and they) doesn’t break the law again between now and then, and pays any requisite fines and fees, then the case is dismissed.
In other words, a slap on the wrist for an intentional, orchestrated violation of the law and waste of taxpayer and law enforcement resources by an elected official.